New Chromium browser for you!
The release earlier this week of Chromium 76 came with a total of 43 security fixes but this new major version of course also sports some real usability changes.
Most notably: Flash is now disabled by default. It’s no longer sufficient to click an “allow Flash on this page” popup but you need to go into the Chromium settings and override the default. And click in on the Flash element to make it start playing. Even then, the changes you make will not survive the restart of the browser. Google is apparently stepping up its efforts in convincing website developers to switch to HTML5 instead. In 2020 Adobe will stop with Flash anyway, so remaining Flash-powered sites will not survive long.
Another big behavioral change is that it is no longer possible for web sites to detect that you are browsing in ‘anonymous mode‘. This will make it a lot harder for sites with a ‘pay-wall‘ to block you from accessing their paid content though trial subscriptions.
And another positive change is that hitting the ‘Esc‘ key to stop a page from loading, is no longer treated as user activation. Meaning that malicious web sites will have more trouble messing with your browser because your ‘Esc‘ keypress is no longer passed to the remote web site.
I uploaded packages for the new Chromium 76.0.3809.87 today. That should have happened days earlier, but unfortunately I had to spend several nights to track down the cause of an inability to compile a 32bit package for the new version.
You may (or may not) know that my chromium.SlackBuild downloads and compiles a custom version of the clang compiler which is then used to compile Chromium. Compiling Chromium with gcc is not fully supported by Google, and Slackware’s own version of clang is too old to be used for Chromium.
So what happened…. some developer determined that no one should run 32bit Linux software anymore and hard-coded a 64bit architecture in the clang build script that is part of the Chromium source. Attempts at compiling a 64bit clang on 32bit Slackware results in weird errors, and of course compiling the Chromium sources was out of the question then. That fuck-up took me a while to find dammit!
After I wrote a patch to fix this for my Slackware package, I inspected the Chromium source repository and was happy to find that this ‘improvement’ had been applied nine weeks ago and that other people had already felt the resulting pain – and that the offending commit has already been reverted.
The next release of Chromium should again compile without issues… fingers crossed.
Wait no more and grab that package (for Slackware 14.2 and -current) from my site or any mirror.
The Chromium 75 sources were released last week by Google, and this new major release contains 42 fixes for security issues. A couple of them are serious enough that you are encouraged to update to the new 75 release ASAP.
In terms of functionality, not much changed in Chromium 75, but there is one interesting addition that you may want to try if you read a lot of content online. It’s called “Reader Mode” and is still disabled by default, You can enable it through the Chrome flag “chrome://flags/#enable-reader-mode“. The reader mode strips away page clutter like buttons, background images and changes the page layout for better readability.
After enabling this feature and re-launching the browser, it can be activated on the page you are currently viewing via Chromium’s top-right menu (the ‘3 vertical dots’) and selecting “Distill page“.
I still need to an in-depth comparison of this new built-in functionality with that of the Chrome extension “Reader View” which I have installed and was using so far. To give an example: this is the Wikipedia page for Slackware.
If you select “Distill page” from the 3-dot menu you will see this un-cluttered reader view:
At the moment I think that the 3rd-party plugin gives more flexibility and capabilities but the built-in functionality at least allows you to get rid of a plugin that you need to authorize to read all your online data.
From a packager’s perspective, upgrading to a new major release always is a mix of hoping and praying that the compilation does not get stuck on too many road blocks thanks to developers who mess with build and installation routines. But I am happy to inform you that even the 32bit package compiled without any issue.
I built the packages for chromium-75.0.3770.80 during the Pentecost weekend and they are now ready for download. Primary site is slackware.com but please use any of its mirrors; they are usually much faster. Try slackware.nl or slackware.uk for instance.
I verified that the Widevine CDM plugin (for Netflix movie streaming) is still working. Time to watch the new season of Happy!
The Chromium 74 sources were released a few days ago by Google, and it comes with a long list of fixes for security issues.
I spent almost two months to investigate why the 32bit package could no longer be built (which is one of the reasons why there were so few updates in march and april – I only have a few hours every day that I can spend on Slackware these days) and had finally managed to compile a 32bit package for Chromium 73 in a 32bit chroot environment on a 64bit Slackware OS, and that package was online for one day…. and now I tried compiling the new release on a regular 32bit Slackware OS and that worked! No idea whether this is because of my modifications of the SlackBuild.
The packages for chromium-74.0.3729.108 are now ready for download from slackware.com or slackware.nl, or any other mirror.
I verified that the Widevine CDM (for Netflix movie streaming) is still working.
The Chromium 72 code was released a few days ago by Google. I built new Slackware packages for Chromium 72.0.3626.81 during the weekend and they are ready for download now on slackware.com or slackware.nl, or any other mirror of course.
There’s a sizable number of CVE’s mentioned in the ChangeLog that were fixed in this release. Therefore it’s a good idea to upgrade today.
I verified that the Widevine CDM is still working, so your Netflix movie streaming is not affected by the upgrade.
Patrick updated the glibc package in slackware-current to the 2.29 release, so I could not stay behind. A new multilib version of the glibc package (also 2.29) is now available in the ‘multilib‘ package repository. I also updated all the ‘compat32’ packages to their latest Slackware versions. Update and enjoy a hassle-free Slackware environment where everything ‘just works’.
The Document Foundation released version 6.1.4 of their office suite Libre Office back on 18 December 2018. I fell ill on the 18th so I missed all the fun. I am working my way back through important software releases and now is the time to start building this version of LibreOffice for Slackware.
I need to compile four sets of packages: for Slackware 14.2 and -current, 32bits and 64bits. That means lots of compile time, so don’t expect new packages in the next few days. They will arrive in the repository eventually. Subscribe to the RSS feed of my ChangeLog if you want to know when.
Last week the Chrome (and Chromium) update to release 69 was in the news. The UI changed significantly, sporting more of Google’s material design elements. Also the password manager has been improved: it will suggest random passwords in cases where you have to create a Web account and will offer to remember the random password in its vault so you don’t have to write it down or remember it (you’ll have to be signed into your Google account to be able to use this feature though).
The ‘omnibox‘ (the area where you type your URLS and search queries) is more powerful now, showing many more related results while you are typing.
My package for Chromium supports direct playback of H.265/HEVC video by the way, and has done so for the past releases. Check it out for instance on https://www.h265files.com/embed-h265-video.php . Not many other browsers (even other distros’ Chromium browsers) will do that.
Not just UI changes/improvements in version 69.0.3497.81 but also many (some severe) bugs were addressed in this release. Read all about that in the Google blog post.
A package for Slackware 14.2 (32bit) took a bit of time because I kept having segafaults in clang++ but an update to the latest patches for Slackware 14.2 put an end to these segfaults. Packages for Slackware 14.2 and -current are awaiting your download.
FYI: Just today an update was posted and a new version 69.0.3497.92 of the Chromium source code was released. I will see when I can compile packages for that, but it will probably not be this week.
And then there was a new release of the VideoLAN media player, VLC, last month. I took a while to reserve some time on the build box to create packages for Slackware 14.2 and -current, but they are done now. The release 3.0.4 did not get any attention on the VideoLAN news page (yet?), but there are plenty of fixes that are relevant for Linux users.
Remember that this VLC depends on Qt5 – you’ll need libxkbcommon, qt5 and qt5-webkit packages, and on Slackware 14.2 additionally libinput and libwacom (those two are already part of -current).
You know where to download the packages, don’t you? The new versions of Chromium and VLC are also present on the latest Plasma5 Live ISO image for Slackware.
Have fun! Eric
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